Mulligan Phase: Upcoming Balance Changes Prediction
Greetings, dear readers, and welcome to another installment of ”Mulligan phase”, the article series where I cover just about everything regarding Hearthstone that has nothing to do with the gameplay itself. In case that some of you have missed the news, we will be getting news about balance changes in February. This will probably include both cards that are being nerfed and cards that are being rotated to Hall of Fame, although the rotation won’t happen until the April expansion. In this article, I will give you my best predictions on what cards might get nerfed, what cards might get rotated to Hall of Fame and what other changes to I really hope to see happen, but they probably won’t. It is always exciting to speculate about these things, at least to me, so without further delays, let’s get the predictions rolling in
With all that out of the way, sit back, relax and let’s just jump into this
In this section, I will talk about the cards that I think will be nerfed. I will give my opinions as to why I believe that these specific cards will be nerfed, how I think they should be nerfed, and the probability of the actually being nerfed, all wrapped up in one package. Let’s begin!
Starting the list with a bang!
Corridor Creeper is very much like Azure Drake in a way that it is a neutral minion which just fits in almost every deck. I feel quite comfortable to say that it has been the single most popular neutral minion since the release of Kobols and Catacombs last month and it is no wonder why. This is a 7 mana 5/5 epic minion that has a cost reduction ability by 1 for each minion that died while Corridor Creeper is in your hand. Thanks to cards like Patches the Pirate and hero powers such as paladin’s hero power, it is not hard to just pump out minion that will die easily and reduce the cost of your Corridor Creeper. There is, however, some slight drawback when it comes to this card and that is that Corridor Creeper must be in your hand. This is why some players opt to keep Corridor Creeper in their starting hand in an effort to play it as soon as possible. Unfortunately, it would seem that this drawback is not enough because Corridor Creeper keeps seeing play and keeps being ”oppressive”. So, how do we fix it?
If you’ve ever read any of my nerf prediction and balancing articles, you will know that my philosophy on this is to keep the spirit of the card intact, which means that while considering a nerf, nerfing a card in a way that changes its core function is not acceptable. You can’t, for example, nerf Corridor Creeper in a way that it costs less but now destroys a minion on battlecry. Such drastic shifts in card design are off the table. With that out of the way, what can we do to make this card a bit weaker? There are two options: increase its cost or nerfs its ability. Corridor Creeper is a giant-ish card and I don’t think that increasing its cost is going to do much good. I’ve been playing evolve shaman in wild, for the first time ever, and I wouldn’t mind Corridor Creeper costing 8-9 mana. No, what you want to do is to nerf its cost reduction ability. I’m 100% certain that if this nerf does go through that new corridor creeper will have its cost reduced only whenever a friendly minion dies. This change will keep the general design of the card intact while still slowing it down to the point of somewhat lesser playability. It is one thing when you can toss a board wipe and play your Corridor Creeper for free and it is another when you can just trade minions and reduce its cost for each minion traded this way.
Possibility of nerfing: Highly likely
Raza the Chained
This was a very tough call between two most oppressive priest cards in the current meta and those cards are Raza the Chained and Shadowreaper Anduin. Both of these cards are decent on their own but when combined they make a very deadly package. Highlander priest deck has been dominating the standard metagame since Knights of the Frozen Throne and people are getting pretty sick of it, understandably so. The combo is not interactive and it can win you the game almost instantly. I don’t believe that both cards will be nerfed because, on their own, they are not too powerful, but together they are a huge problem. Luckily I’ve been playing exclusively wild and, contrary from what I’ve heard, I’ve barely seen any highlander combo priests on the ladder (then again you have to note that I’ve just recently begun climbing the ladder so maybe they are all legend right now, I don’t know, I’ll let you know when I get there later next week).
Out of these two cards, which one should be nerfed? I strongly believe that the card that will be nerfed is, in fact, Raza the Chained. Now, this opens up a whole can of worms because Raza the Chained is rotating out in 3 months and Shadowreaper Anduin is going to stay for another whole year, so why nerf Raza the Chained? In order to understand this, you need to look at the game from both business and design perspective. When the Knights of the Frozen Throne expansion was announced, everybody went crazy for the new deathknight cards, which was the whole point of them. These cards were made in a way that they could change the game and the way that we go about constructing our decks in a new and exciting manner. When you play them they need to feel powerful (unfortunately some of them fail to accomplish this goal). More importantly, opening those cards needs to feel exciting. Imagine a new player playing against a priest and that priest plays Shadowreaper Anduin, a card that the new player sees for the first time. His or her thoughts are probably along the line of ”wow, look at this super powerful and unique new card”. We can assume that at least a portion of those new players would want to get their hands on Shadowreaper Anduin. Where can they get it? They can either craft it or buy Knights of the Frozen Throne packs. This is not true for just Shadowreaper Anduin but any deathknight card (except for maybe Vallera the dusted). Deathknights awe new player and make them buy packs in order to get them. Besides, there are a lot of deck building possibilities surrounding deathknights so I’m sure that Blizzard doesn’t want to nerf them before exploring the fully.
Raza the Chained, on the other hand, is rotating out in 3 months so they nerf might ”not matter”. Regardless, you need to nerf something. Highlander priest can’t continue oppressing the metagame for the next 3 months while we are all waiting for the nerfs to drop which is why I believe that Raza the Chained is the one that will end up on the chopping block. How would I nerf it without changing the design of the card? I would simply make it change the cost of the hero power to 1 instead of 0 and call it a day. The hero power cost has been changed, which is the point of the card, and the card wasn’t completely destroyed but the combo has been significantly weakened. The only other thing that I can see actually being changed instead of Raza the Chained is changing the damage from Shadowreaper Anduins hero power from 2 to 1 which is still a fair change in my opinion.
Possibility of nerfing Raza: Highly likely
Possibility of nerfing Anduin: Not likely
Other cards that I don’t see being nerfed
I see only two cards being nerfed and those are the two that I’ve listed but the community is in somewhat of an uproar about some other cards so let me throw my hat in the ring. Call to Arms is not broken. It is a strong card in a very specific deck type, aggro paladin, and that is the only place where it is any good. I don’t deny that the card is powerful but it is nowhere near as ”dangerous” and as ”unhealthy” a the two above are. Carnivorous Cube is also not broken. It is a combo card that fits one deck, Cubelock, and it is utterly useless in other decks. Yes, raza/anduin are also combo cards that fit only one deck but those two cards are insanely overpowered when together will the cube is just good in this one deck and that is it. Spiteful Summoner is decent. It is not as overpowered as you might believe. It is a high roll card that fits a Big Spells deck, maybe sees play in some other decks, but we’ve had similar cards before and they didn’t break the game so neither will this one.
The power of all of these cards can be changed as new cards come out while the power of the two that I think will be banned can’t be changed without nerfing. That is the big difference between strong cards and cards that actually need to be nerfed for the good of the game.
Hall of Fame
Ok, now we’re going to talk about what excites me more and that is the possibility of crafting golden cards without losing dust aka shifting cards from standard to the Hall of Fame. There is only one rule when it comes to this and that is classic cards only! I have 4 cards on this list that I can see being put into the Hall so lets get into it
Ice Block is a really powerful yet unique mage secret that has been around since the beginning o Hearthstone. Some mage players will argue with you that Ice Block is fine and that it shouldn’t be moved to Hall of Fame because it is not so impactful now and mage needs ways of keeping itself alive. Those players fail to understand that Ice Block has been a mainstay in a lot of mage decks since forever. It saw most play in freeze mage but control mage, secret mage, big mage and other mage decks have been playing it as well. Besides, I’m quite sure that the developers want this card to stick around forever and they have even hinted at the possibility of it being moved to Hall of Fame. If you’re a mage player who is defending Ice Block, please listen to me. It is basically confirmed by this point that the developers are going to do something about this card. Would you rather have it nerfed into unplayability or moved to Hall of Fame? Even if you’re not playing wild you will still get to either craft a golden version or get 400-800 dust for free so at least that is something, right?
Probability of moving to Hall of Fame: 100%
But, Eternal, Gadgetzan Auctioneer barely sees any play when compared to the previous years! True, it is not as good now as it was before but the point of Hall of Fame is not to affect cards that are currently being super powerful but to affect those that have had a great impact on the game in the past and might have that same impact in the future. Gadgetzan Auctioneer limits design space and can easily get out of hand if not treated carefully. It was the main card in miracle rogue and giants druid and, while those decks aren’t seeing much play now, there is a chance that Gadgetzan Auctioneer will eventually cause another deck to surge only due to existing in the game. This is what Blizzard is trying to avoid. Gadgetzan Auctioneer had a very good run so far but now it is time to let him go. Besides, just like with all cards on this list, it was stated by the developers, at some point, that Gadgetzan Auctioneer was considered either for the first Hall of Fame rotation or for a nerf so the possibility of it going away now is 100%.
Possibility of moving to Hall of Fame: 100%
Alexstrasza has historically been the most powerful combo enabler in the game. It saw play in multiple decks across the life span of Heartstone and, just like some other cards here, while it doesn’t see much play now there is always a chance that it will later down the road. I really like this card and I’ve been playing with it ever since I’ve started playing Hearthstone. If I were a standard player I would have been quite sad to see it go and honestly I wouldn’t mind crafting myself a golden one once the Hall of Fame rotation hits. The problem with this card is the impact of setting someone to 15 life. If your opponent is on full health this card is basically deal 15 damage and get an 8/8 dragon for 9 mana. While it could be nerfed into making it being able to only target you, I would much rather keep it the way it is, because it enables some combo decks, and have it moved to Hall of Fame. Besides, Alexstrasza was mentioned as a card for a potential nerf at some point in the previous year so I’m quite sure that we are seeing its last run in the standard format.
Possibility of moving to Hall of Fame: 80%
Yes, Molten Giant is being moved to the Hall of Fame. This one has been practically confirmed last April in multiple interviews with Ben Brode regarding the state of Molten Giant and Handlock. For you new players, Handlock has been a super fun and super popular deck in the early days of Hearthstone. It revolved around you drawing cards, falling to low life total, then slamming two copies of Molten Giant, giving them taunt and proceeding to heal yourself afterwards, but because of Molten Giant being a key card in this deck, the deck had died out when it was nerfed. Ben Brode did mention a strong possibility of reverting the Molten Giant nerf and moving the card to Hall of Fame so I’m 100% sure that this is going to happen in April.
Possibility of moving to Hall of Fame: 100%, basically confirmed
Speaking of reverting nerfs, please, for the love of Yogg, revert the Ancient of Lore nerf and move it to Hall of Fame.
That is it. We’ve reached the end of yet another article
What cards do you expect to see nerfed and moved to Hall of Fame? Would you like to see some nerfs revered in exchange for the cards being moved to the Hall of Fame? Leave your comments in the comment section below. As always if you’ve liked this article do consider following me on twitter https://twitter.com/Eternal_HS. There you can ask me all sorts of Hearthstone questions (unrelated to this article) and I’ll gladly answer them as best as I can!